- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The suspect in Monday’s supermarket shooting in Boulder, Colorado, a Syria-born Muslim who came to America as a child, is a former high school wrestler who scorns former President Donald Trump, supports refugees, and has a history of losing his temper.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, of Arvada, Colorado, was charged Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder in the massacre at King Soopers. His first court date is slated for Thursday, but authorities have offered no motive for the seemingly random attack on grocery shoppers in the upscale community.

“I know there’s an extensive investigation just getting underway into his background,” Boulder County prosecutor Michael Dougherty said at a press conference. “He’s lived most of his life in the United States, and beyond that, we’re still in the very early stages of the investigation.”

The arrest affidavit said Mr. Alissa bought a Ruger AR-556 pistol on March 16. A woman identified as his sister-in-law told officers that “Alissa was seen playing with a gun she thought looked like a ‘machine gun’ about 2 days ago.”

President Biden said Tuesday that the shooting drove home the need for stronger gun control laws. He called on Congress to “ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country.”

The 10 people killed ranged in age from 20 to 65 and included police Officer Eric Talley, 51, a father of seven who authorities said rushed into the line of fire.

King Soopers workers offered a chilling account of one of the shootings.

“The employees observed the suspect shoot an elderly man in the parking lot,” said the affidavit. “The suspect then walked up to the elderly man, stood over him and shot him multiple additional times.”

Mr. Alissa’s Facebook page offered no warning about the attack but did provide a window into his interests, mingling inspirational citations from Muslim Hub with photos of UFC and MMA stars, along with criticism of Mr. Trump and Islamophobia, anti-gay slurs and comments about gaming and wrestling.

“Trumps such a dick,” Mr. Alissa said Sept. 18, 2018, in a Facebook post that linked to a Washington Post story, “Analysis/The Trump approach to refugees, visualized.”

His page, which Facebook removed Tuesday, said he was born in Syria in 1999 and came to the U.S. in 2002, which would have been when he was about 3.

He graduated in 2018 from Arvada West High School, having participated on the wrestling team from 2016-2018, according to the Jefferson County school district. He kept up with wrestling for a while and earned two medals at a March 2019 competition that he displayed in a photo, but he also struggled.

In 2017, he was arrested and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for beating up a classmate who he said “had made fun of him and called him racial names weeks earlier,” according to the affidavit obtained by The Denver Post.

Arvada police spokesman Detective David Snelling said Mr. Alissa was known to the department.

“We do have two criminal reports in reference to Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa,” Detective Snelling said in an email. “Those incidents are a 3rd-degree assault in 2017 and criminal mischief in 2018.”

Some of those who knew Mr. Alissa in high school described him as short-tempered. Former teammate Dayton Marvel, who graduated from Arvada West in 2018, said Mr. Alissa had no friends that he knew of and was “kind of scary to be around.”

“His senior year, during the wrestle-offs to see who makes varsity, he actually lost his match and quit the team and yelled out in the wrestling room that he was like going to kill everybody,” Mr. Marvel told The Denver Post. “Nobody believed him. We were just all kind of freaked out by it, but nobody did anything about it.”

Tyson Crosby, whose son wrestled on the same team, told Colorado Public Radio that Mr. Alissa was a “nice kid” who “did have some periods of, a little bit of anger management issues, I would say. He would get frustrated, and he would become very explosive.”

On his Facebook page, Mr. Alissa said he was studying computer science and computer systems engineering at Metropolitan State University in Denver, but school spokesman Tim Carroll said in an email that he “is not nor has ever been an MSU Denver student.”

His brother, Ali Alissa, told the Daily Beast that his younger sibling was beset by mental health issues.

“[It was] not at all a political statement. It’s mental illness,” Ali Alissa said. “The guy used to get bullied a lot in high school. He was like an outgoing kid, but after he went to high school and got bullied a lot, he started becoming anti-social.”

Mr. Alissa told paramedics that he was not taking any medications and that he did not appear to be impaired by alcohol or drugs, according to the affidavit.

In a 2019 post, Mr. Alissa accused his former high school of hacking into his cellphone, which he blamed in part on racism.

“I believe part racism for sure,” he said in reply to a comment. “I believe someone spread rumors about me which are false and maybe that set it off.”

He also made reference to the 2019 mass shootings on two mosques that left 51 dead in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“The Muslims at the. #christchurch mosque were not the victims of a single shooter. They were the victims of the entire Islamophobia industry that vilified them,” Ahmad Alissa said in a post picked up by Heavy.com.

At another point, Mr. Alissa called abortion “disgusting,” but not all his posts were issues-based. “#Needagirlfriend,” he said in 2019.

Mr. Alissa was transported Tuesday to the Boulder County Jail after being hospitalized briefly with a leg wound that police said was sustained in the attack.

“Officers arrived on the scene within minutes and immediately entered the store and engaged the suspect,” Boulder County Police Chief Maris Herold said at a press conference. “There was an exchange of gunfire in which the suspect was shot.”

As he was being arrested, Mr. Alissa stripped down to his underwear and removed a green tactical vest, jeans and a dark-colored long-sleeved shirt, the affidavit said. On the scene were a rifle, possibly an AR-15, and a semi-automatic handgun.

In addition to Officer Talley, those who died in the shooting were Denny Stong, 20; Nevin Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62, and Jody Waters, 65.

Ms. Leiker was described as a 31-year employee of King Soopers, part of the Kroger grocery chain.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who lives in Boulder, said he had shopped at the grocery store on Table Mesa Drive many times and mourned “the senseless tragedy, the loss of life.”

He made reference to last week’s mass shooting near Atlanta, which left eight dead, saying the state had only just begun resuming flying American flags full mast after lowering them to half-mast for those victims.

“We will hold the evildoer responsible to the full extent of the law for his actions, and we will always remember the victims of the King Soopers shooting,” Mr. Polis said.

In some posts, Mr. Alissa appeared to be aware of problems with his temper. In October 2018, he shared a meme about “Me making bad life choices” and “My self control.”

“When we’re emotional or angry we tend to say things we don’t mean. … It’s best not to talk when your emotional,” he said in 2019.

His last Facebook post, a Muslim Hub quote from the Prophet Muhammad, came on Sept. 18, 2020.

⦁ Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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